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Articles by: Joelle Grosso

  • A video of some of the featured works that are currently on display
    Events

    IAVANET Exhibition: Lavori Su Carta

    Richard Laurenzi, the founding member of IAVANET as well as the curator of “Lavori Su Carta” has put together a wonderful collection of pieces that demonstrate exactly what the title of the exhibition suggests: works on paper. It may seem like a fairly simple concept but there is a rich history behind the use of paper in the art world that is not acknowledged as often as it should be. 

    All the way back to the Italian Renaissance, the ingenious Michelangelo would sketch on paper just as a study for future paintings or sculptures that called for more expensive materials. It wasn’t until later on that people understood the value of those sketches and realized that works on paper were capable of standing alone as complete pieces.

    “Lavori Su Carta” explores this theme and shows how artists use paper not only to develop their visual ideas but to use the material itself as the base for original and unique works of art. Artists also cleverly utilize paper as a way to reproduce their work in large quantities so that it can be made readily available to art buyers at a much more affordable price. 

    Starting Monday, January 23rd Casa Italiana is featuring a wide range of pieces which include preliminary drawings for paintings and sculptures, where visitors have the opportunity to get a glimpse inside the mind of the artists and understand the thought process behind the piece alongside the final product. The exhibition also presents one-of-a-kind works in a variety of media as well as reproduced works in the form of prints, book illustrations, and photographs. 

    All the pieces on display were created by members of the Italian-American Visual Artists’ Network whose mission is “to promote and make visible the work of contemporary Italian-American visual artists encompassing a full range of expression from pure abstraction to depictions of the Italian-American experience.”

    The network consists of painters, sculptors, designers, graphic artists, photographers, as well as installation artists. This core group hopes to promote communication with Italian artists, organize IAVANET exhibitions in Italy, welcome Italian artists to New York, establish a mentoring program and open a studio facility in Italy.

    Any art lover should stop by the beautiful Casa Italiana location to take a look at this refreshing exhibition. The show will be running from Monday to Friday from 10AM to 5PM for the next three weeks and is sure to fulfill everyone’s particular tastes in art.

  • International Holocaust Remembrance Day is on Friday January 27th
    Events

    International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2017

    Friday January 27th is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day that consists of worldwide commemorations of the horrific events that took place in Nazi Germany during World War II. Centro Primo Levi is working with NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò, the Italian Cultural Institute, the Consulate General of Italy, and the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute to organize a week of events that will allow their audience to reflect on the Holocaust in a way that “challenges our idea of history and provides a lens to consider the crisis of the idea of Europe and ponder the current plight of refugees from surrounding countries.”

    The week will begin at NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò on January 24th with a symposium organized by the Consulate General of Italy, Centro Primo Levi, Casa Italiana, Italian Academy at Columbia University, Calandra Institute at CUNY, Alliance of Columbia University and the Italian Cultural Institute entitled “Under Glass: Museums and the Display of History.” Guest scholars include Guri Schwarz from the University of Pisa, Laure Neumayer from the University Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, and Anna Di Lellio from The New School. This brilliant group of international intellectuals will gather to discuss museums of memory and history all over the world. By taking a deeper look at certain museums, they will analyze how those establishments chose to portray history and what measurements they took to do so. There are many museums that serve as living memorials to the Holocaust so it’s interesting to hear the opinion of the experts on how the displays take form and how they affect the viewer.

    January 26th will be a day full of interesting events at the Italian Cultural Institute starting with a presentation by Anna Pizzuti. Pizzuti is a school teacher that has been compiling real stories for decades about the foreign Jews interned by the Fascist Regime in Italy. From her research she was able to create a comprehensive national online database which not only provides a different perspective but it has also spurred on historiographical interest worldwide. Following the presentation will be the screening of an experimental film called E42 created by Cynthia Madansky that focuses on the story of Katja Tenenbaum, a girl born in the south of Rome where her parents were interned as foreign Jews. The film sheds light on the ideas of twentieth century political philosopher Hannah Arendt and poses questions on displacement, memory, and oblivion. 

    The annual public reading of the names of the Jewish people deported from Italy and Italian territories during the Holocaust will take place at the Consulate General of Italy on January 27th from 9AM to 3PM. Archival remnants of their journeys throughout the years of persecution and war will also be read during the ceremony. 

    Take International Holocaust Remembrance Day as a moment to reflect and remember those whose lives were brutally taken so many years ago but also take it as an opportunity to ponder the issues that are currently happening in the world so that we can apply what we’ve learned from the past in an appropriate manner instead of just repeating our mistakes. 

     

  • Comedian Tony Rosato was a Saturday Night Live alum
    Life & People

    Tony Rosato: Looking Back on the Comedian’s Life

    Italian-Canadian comedian, actor, and voice actor, Tony Rosato, was born in Naples and came to Canada with his family at the age of four. As a youngster he had the hopes of studying medicine but as fate would have it, he ended up falling in love with comedy instead. He dropped out of the University of Toronto shortly after entering the improv scene at The Second City which is a multi-city improvisational theater troupe. 

    Rosato got his first big break when he joined the cast of Second City Television, or SCTV, in 1980. The popular sketch show is where other comedic greats including the likes of Martin Short and Rick Moranis kicked off their successful careers. Rosato’s most popular character on SCTV was called Marcello Sebastiani, an Italian-American television chef that usually drank a little too much red wine while he cooked. This was also the platform where he was able to show off his spot on impersonations of Lou Costello, John Belushi, and Ella Fitzgerald just to name a few. 

    Afterwards, Rosato went on to join the cast of Saturday Night Live for one season from 1981 to 1982, making him the first member to be born in Italy. Even though he was there for just a year, he created several memorable characters during his stay including Ed Asner, Captain Kangaroo, and U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese. 

    He then went into the acting direction and appeared in television and movies for the next two decades. His biggest role was the character of Arthur “Whitey” Morelli in the Canadian police drama Night Heat. Most people don’t know that Rosato is also the voice of many beloved cartoon characters and has worked for tons of animated series. You might recognize him as the voice of Luigi on the DiC television show The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 but he also provided voices from numerous children shows such as Hello Kitty and Friends, Little Bear, and Pippi Longstocking

    Unfortunately in 2005, Rosato went through many personal problems and was arrested for criminal harassment of his wife. Although he had been diagnosed with a rare delusional misidentification syndrome, Rosato was in denial about his deteriorating mental health and refused to plead insanity to the charges. For this reason, he was held in a detention center for over two years before finally being released in 2007 to live in a psychiatric hospital for 19 months. His death was unexpected at the age of 62 to what appears to be a heart attack. Despite the difficulties that occurred later in his life, Rosato will always be remembered as a talented and versatile comedian who provided his audiences with nothing but laughter for years on end. 

     

  • Lucio Melandri of UNICEF
    Facts & Stories

    Alarming Trend of Minor Migrants in Italy

    The number of minor migrants arriving in Italy has drastically expanded from 12,360 in 2015 to 25,800 in 2016. According to UNICEF, the majority of children seeking asylum are arriving from Eritrea, Egypt, the Gambia, and Nigeria. Civil war, forced labor, and crimes against humanity are just some of the reasons people are fleeing their native lands. Although all European countries are receiving more migrants now more than ever, the situation in Italy is particularly unique because the majority of children arriving are unaccompanied or separated from their families. 

    This is disquieting not only because extremely vulnerable children are risking their lives to get to Europe but once they arrive, they have no where to go. Lucio Melandri, UNICEF Senior Emergency Manager, says that “current systems in place are failing to protect these children who find themselves alone in a totally unfamiliar environment.” Most of the minor migrants are boys from the age of 15 to 17 years old but the younger girls are the ones especially at risk for sexual exploitation and abuse by criminal gangs. 

    Melandri adds that “it is obviously clear that we have a serious and growing problem on our hands. Apart from addressing the factors that are forcing children to travel alone from their homes, a comprehensive system of protection and monitoring needs to be developed to protect them.”

    In May 2016, UNICEF and the Government of Italy collaborated and signed a joint declaration of intent which pledged to monitor reception standards to ensure that they are in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. They also pledged to monitor reception centers and to integrate migrant and refugee children into Italian society. Even though these steps are still necessary, much more needs to be done since the number of minor migrants is now exponentially larger. 

    It is an uncertain time in Europe and the dangerous Central Mediterranean route from North Africa to Italy is only making matters worse. UNICEF and other organizations are working hard to ensure the safety of these young people but they also want to get to the root of the problem by resolving the issues that are happening in their home countries. This way their goal is to prevent these complications from ever arising in the first place. If you would personally like to help the cause, feel free to donate to UNICEF on their website.

  • Italian Artist Giuseppe Penone working on the new sculptures. Courtesy of Valentina Sommariva
    Art & Culture

    Fendi Bonds With Giuseppe Penone: a Dialogue Between Tradition and Modernity

    Fendi, one of the most sophisticated clothing brands in the world is teaming up with Italian artist, Giuseppe Penone as a way to pay tribute to the Eternal City. Rome is a symbolic spot for Fendi because not only is it the the capital of Italy but it’s where the fashion house was born. The company was created all the way back in 1925 by the couple, Adele and Edoardo Fendi, who owned a tiny fur and leather shop on Via del Plebiscito. Throughout the years, the business took off to the point where it is now a multinational luxury fashion brand with tremendous influence over the style industry. 

    When designing their fairly new flagship store located in the heart of Rome near the Spanish Steps, Fendi chose to install a sculpture entitled “Leaves of Stone” created by the Italian artist, Giuseppe Penone for the upcoming spring season. The eye-catching sculpture consists of two intertwined bronze trees and towers at over 60 feet. The President and CEO of the company Pietro Beccari says that they decided to feature this particular piece because it “expresses the deep bond with Rome and the importance of this bond in the history of Fendi.” 

    He added that “Penone is an Italian artist of international fame with whom we share the passion for creation, for know-how, and for the dialogue between tradition and modernity, cardinal Fendi values.”

    Penone was born in 1947 and is a member of the “Arte Povera” Italian contemporary art movement which revolves around avant-garde concepts. His sculptures, installations, and drawings are characterized by their incorporation of unconventional materials such as lead, iron, wax, wood, plaster, and burlap. A central theme that can be found in Penone’s work is the profound relationship between man and nature which is why the imagery of trees is often used in his pieces. Trees are used to demonstrate a living organism and to prove that they are not so different from human beings. With the “Leaves of Stone” installation, Penone is delighted to be part of the Fendi family and he hopes that his art serves to represent a greater force between the fashion house and the city of Rome. 

    Not only will you be able to catch a glimpse of Penone’s work at the flagship location but Fendi will also hold a survey exhibition at the newly renovated Palace of Italian Civilization, an old fascist-era landmark that has recently been transformed into the brand’s new headquarters. The great display entitled “Matrice” will be free and open to public from January 27th to July 16th. It will feature 18 stunning works that span the career of the artist which have never been publicly shown in Italy before.

  • Colorful artwork by Renato Mambor
    Art & Culture

    Are You Planning to Visit Italy? Art You Should See

    To start the new year off, Palazzo Martinengo in the city of Brescia will host a fascinating exhibition called “From Hayez to Boldini: Souls and Faces of Italian 19th-century painting.” The event will begin on January 21st and will feature more than 100 paintings created by the masters of Italian art including Francesco Hayez and Giovanni Boldini. Hayez was a leading artist of Romanticism during mid-19th century Milan while Boldini focused more on genre and portrait painting. More work by Boldini will be displayed later on in the year at the Complesso del Vittoriano in Rome.

    Next up on February 9th, the Galleria Gruppo Credito Valtellinese in Milan will present a show in honor of the late Renato Mambor who was not just a painter, but a writer, photographer, and actor as well. He passed away just two years ago but is remembered all over the world as the founder of the “Conceptual Neo-Figuration” movement. The exhibition serves as a retrospective of his greatest pieces and avant garde style. 

    The fifth centenary since the death of one of the most brilliant Venetian Renaissance painters, Giovanni Bellini, will be commemorated at Palazzo Sarcinelli in Conegliano in the province of Treviso. The exhibition, entitled “Giovanni Bellini e i Belliniani,” will begin on the 25th of February and will display the masterpieces of the man who revolutionized the way Venetians paint.

    In March, various works of art created by the prominent 17th-century artist from Emilia Romagna, Guercino, can be admired all throughout Italy. Visitors can attend an exhibition featuring his work at the Palazzo Farnese in Rome but they will also have the opportunity to go up to the dome of the beautiful cathedral of Piacenza to view the spectacular frescoes Guercino made hundreds of years ago. He is known for painting in the typical Baroque style characterized by dramatic lighting and bold colors. 

    Liguria will celebrate their native painter, Amedeo Modigliani, at an exhibition that will take place at Palazzo Ducale in Genoa on March 16th. Even though the influential artist died young at the age of 35, he had a prolific career full of inventive work that still inspires young artists today. His art is instantly recognizable and consists of classic forms with primitive undertones.  

    Last but certainly not least is a show at the Magnani Rocca Foundation in Mamiano di Traversetolo near Parma called “Depero, the Magician.” Fortunato Depero was a futurist painter, writer, sculptor, and graphic designer who grew up in Rovereto. There, he would go on to establish the “House of Futurist Art” which manufactured futuristic toys and furniture. At this particular exhibition, over 100 paintings, collages, drawings, clothing, pieces of furniture and other items will be on view starting March 18th. 

    If you’re planning to take a trip to Italy in 2017, take time out to see some of the greatest masterpieces the country has to offer!

  • An illustration created by Emiliano Ponzi
    Art & Culture

    The Shades of Italian Illustration

    The immense talent of these illustrators has been recognized all over the world with a long client list that includes the likes of The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vogue, Rolling Stone, and La Repubblica. Together they have formed a powerful force that is currently taking the illustration game by storm.

    Every artist is unique and has a particular stylistic approach, however there are some noticeable common threads in each generation. The art of the older illustrators contains a signifcantly more subdued color palette with soft hand drawn lines and subtle texture. On the other hand, the work of Ponzi and Zagnoli is drastically diferent, characterized by bold color schemes and strong graphic compositions.

     

    The lines are hard and this is most likely because of the undeniable infuence of digitalization on this era of illustrators. The illustrations are typically computer generated, two dimensional, and somewhat minimalist, however they do pack a punch and immediately demand the attention of the viewer.

     

    Even though these visual artists are based in Italy, their work can be found internationally whether it be on book covers or on some of the most popular and best-selling magazines. At the moment, Ponzi and Zagnoli in particular are having great success in the United States partly because their striking illustrations stand out more in an extremely competitive and ferce market. Their boldness seems to be more attractive to the audience which turns them into consumers, a quality that is essential in American publishing houses. 

     

    What these Italian illustrators all have in common is that they have the ability to reflect the language of their time in the most beautiful way. Not only have they provided us with gorgeous images to get lost in, but they also managed to put their country on the map while doing so which is an incredible feat.

  • Luigi Pirandello was a prominent writer who lived from 1867 to 1936
    Art & Culture

    Pirandello 150: A Tribute to the Italian Dramatist and Writer

    150 years have passed since the legendary writer, Luigi Pirandello, was born in 1867 in Agrigento, a stunning city that lies on the beautiful southern coast of Sicily. A multifaceted artist who wrote plays, short stories, poetry, and novels, Pirandello was best known for the works The Late Mattia Pascal and Six Characters in Search of an Author. In 1934, he even won the Nobel Prize in Literature. His writing resonated, and continues to resonate, with readers because the main themes revolve around universal issues such as identity and illusion. Not only did Pirandello put out prolific amounts of work during his lifetime but he had an astonishing influence on the world of drama even after his death.

    American theater critic Robert Brustein refers to Pirandello as “the most seminal dramatist of our time” saying that his work anticipated the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Samuel Beckett and Eugene O’Neill. This is why Helluva Theater and Film Forum thought the 150th anniversary of Pirandello’s birth would be the perfect opportunity to commemorate his finest contributions to the world. 

    Helluva Theater’s “Pirandello 150” festival will continue all year long but it’s stay at Film Forum will last just a week. They will host several screenings including the 1984 film Kaos, a drama directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani based on Pirandello’s short stories. You will also have the chance to see adapted films of Six Characters in Search of an Author, Henry IV, Tu Ridi, Liolà, The Nanny, and a special version of The Late Mattia Pascal which will feature a live piano accompaniment.

    According to their website, Film Forum was opened in 1970 “as an alternative screening space for independent films, with 50 folding chairs, one projector and a $19,000 annual budget.” Over time they have relocated and expanded with thousands of members and a $5 million operating budget where 77% of it is spent directly on programs. They pride themselves on being the only autonomous nonprofit cinema in New York City that commits to “presenting an international array of films that treat diverse social, political, historical and cultural realities.”

    Keep an eye out for other events held by Helluva Theater Company throughout the year as they are planning to add lectures and panel discussions on Pirandello as well as numerous theatrical productions. Join them in celebrating the life and work of one of Italy’s most influential writers, Luigi Pirandello!

  • Art & Culture

    Inside the Words of Tullio De Mauro

    Italy has recently lost one of their top scholars, Tullio De Mauro, the individual who is credited for introducing linguistics to the Italian people. Born in 1932 in the town of Torre Annunziata near Naples, De Mauro would grow up to make monumental strides in the field of linguistics, a discipline that was little known at the time. He wrote his most important work at the age of 31 entitled “Linguistic History of Unified Italy,” which explores the numerous Italian dialects and the standardization of the Italian language as we know it today. It doesn't aim to recount the history of the language but rather the history of the Italian people as a whole. 

    Most people don’t realize that thousands of dialects originating from Latin were spoken long before the official unification of Italy in 1861. The dialects of the Italian Peninsula are actually Romance languages in themselves alongside French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, etc. De Mauro described it best when he said that “the Italian language had to be taught as a second language given that most people spoke dialects.” Standardized Italian is a relatively new phenomenon that was not ubiquitous prior to the unification and the rise of the Rai television network. Learning Italian was a drastic transition for all those who only spoke a dialect. 

    Today, most Italians are "bilingual" because they still know their local dialect, but it’s without a doubt that many of these precious languages are quickly being lost. A popular quote of De Mauro that perfectly demonstrates his view on this reality is “the destruction of language is the premise for all future destruction.”

    Another topic that he spoke about frequently was "functional illiteracy" in Italy, a troubling problem that surprisingly still afflicts a fairly large part of the population. Unlike being completely illiterate, functional illiteracy is when a person has the ability to read and write in their native language but very poorly in terms of grammatical correctness and style. De Mauro thought the issue didn't have much to do with the educational institution itself but instead he was primarily concerned about what was going on outside of school and how language was treated in society. 

    On top of all of De Mauro’s insightful written work, he was also a professor of general linguistics for the Humanities department at the University of Rome “La Sapienza,” and he held the position of Minister of Education from 2000-2001 under the government of Giuliano Amato. Current President, Sergio Mattarella, remembered De Mauro as a "passionate intellectual, a fine scholar, and an Italian who never hesitated when asked to use his experiences and abilities to serve the institutions of the Republic." 

    His research was also appreciated outside of Italy as he frequently gave seminars in every corner of the world – from Japan to Argentina. Within Italy, he received several high honors throughout his lifetime including the Prize of the President of the Republic which was awarded to him in 2006 by then Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano. He also accepted the Medal Meritorious of Science and Culture in 2007 as well as receiving many honorary degrees internationally. De Mauro will certainly be missed, but his work will live on forever through the complex study of language.

  • Facts & Stories

    Remembering Franca Sozzani, Vogue Italia's Editor in Chief

    American Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour remembers Sozzani as “warm, clever, funny, and someone who could give the Sphinx a run for its money when it comes to keeping a confidence.” 

    Vanessa Friedman, the Fashion Director at The New York Times says that Sozzani “redefined the job of editor as one of activist, grappling with topics like race, domestic violence, plastic surgery, drug addiction and the BP oil spill.”

    Donatella Versace of the luxurious Versace empire beautifully articulates that “the world has lost the icon of Italian style and the epitome of feminine empowerment. I will miss her more than words can say.”

    Fashion stylist Lori Goldstein adds that “Franca didn’t have to try. She wasn’t trying to be cool. She wasn’t trying to be revolutionary. She just was.”

    The biggest names in the fashion industry have only kind words to describe Franca Sozzani, expressing their grief as well as their gratitude after her unexpected death earlier this week. For those who don’t know, Franca Sozzani was born in the city of Mantua in Northern Italy and started her career in the fashion industry at the age of 26, working for publications like Vogue Bambini, Lei, and Per Lui before finally heading to Vogue Italia in 1988. What made her such a unique editor was her courage to give full creative control to others, to take risks, to push boundaries, and to question social norms. 

    Some of her most controversial covers include Vogue Italia’s “black issue” which was published back in 2008, when citizens of the United States were considering electing their first black president, Barack Obama. The entire magazine exclusively featured models of color, which turned out to be a best seller because it challenged the non-inclusive standards of the beauty industry and pointed out the racial problems within the fashion industry. Another magazine issue that sparked conversation was put out in July 2011 and featured three plus-sized models on the cover as a way to battle anorexia, another huge problem in the fashion industry. Sozzani herself stated that “fashion has always been blamed as one of the culprits of anorexia, and our commitment is the proof that fashion is ready to get on the frontline and struggle against the disorder.”

    Sozzani didn’t solve all the problems in the fashion industry but what she did best was to simply start up a dialogue, which is always the first step is breaking down any barrier. Through powerful imagery and provocative ideas, Sozzani’s contributions to the world are irreplaceable and go beyond clothes.

    “Fashion isn’t really about clothes,” she once said, “it’s about life.”

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